Developmental Process Work is a clinical modality that helps people heal experiences of developmental shock, trauma, and stress so that they are able to give conditional love and share it with others. DPW’s ultimate goal is helping people to be deeply intimate with each other, while also psychologically separate and individuated in ways that allow maximum mutual growth.
Developmental Process Work (DPW) helps clients shift from the trauma track to the LOVEvolution track by having them identify and resolve internal and/or interpersonal recurring or intractable conflicts that contain unresolved shocking, traumatic, or stressful experiences from the first 3 years of life. We describe many of these tools in our books, Conflict Resolution: The Partnership Way, and Healing Developmental Trauma: A Systems Approach for Counseling Individuals, Couples and Families.
The Client-Therapist Relationship
DPW emphasizes the role of the client-therapist relationship as a major component in helping people shifting from the Trauma Track to the LOVEvolution track. For this reason, the therapeutic environment must be very safe, emotionally supportive, and trust-building so that clients can reprocess both the biological and psychological components of their developmental shock, trauma, and stress.
Therapists must have cleared enough lingering effects of their own developmental shocks, traumas, and stresses in order to interact from an empathic, heart-centered space. Then it becomes possible for clients to really experience the unconditional love that is central to the LOVEvolution track.
In this empathic and loving therapeutic crucible, clients are able to identify their unhealed developmental shocks, traumas, and stresses and resolve the intractable conflicts associated with them. Then clients are able to complete any essential developmental processes not completed in the codependent and counterdependent stages of early childhood. Most importantly, clients are able to experience the support of a healthy, conscious relationship while they are doing their deep therapeutic work.
History of Developmental Process Work
Developmental Process Work emerged in Barry and Janae’s clinical work after they studied Process-Oriented Psychology (POP) with Drs. Arny & Amy Mindell in Zurich, Switzerland in 1986. As they used the POP principles and tools, what emerged in their client’s clinical work were incomplete development processes from the first three years of life. This deepened Barry & Janae’s study of developmental psychology, pre- and perinatal psychology and traumatology. Over time, they were able to organize the research, theory and practice of these fields into their own clinical paradigm for working with individuals, couples and families.
Professionally, DPW emerged out of the co-teaching that Barry & Janae did in their conflict resolution classes in the Counseling & Human Services Program at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. They saw that intractable conflicts were almost always anchored in developmental trauma from the first three years of life and responsible for lifetime cycles of traumatic reenactment.
Initially, Janae did DPW demonstrations in the conflict resolution classes. Students’ demand for more in-depth skills in DPW led her to offer it as an elective class, which grew into a 4-course graduate series. Janae also began offering trainings in DPW to the professional staff at CICRCL’s sister NGO in Kiev, Ukraine between 2007 – 2011, and at the Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville, NC.
Janae and Barry also developed very specific DPW principles for working with couples and families. They find this part of their clinical work most satisfying, as they’ve seen couples transform themselves, their couple relationship and their family structure. Barry and Janae also have applied these principles in their own couple relationship and with their families.